Subsections

The University Organ


Crane and Sons (c.1899-1969)

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Arthur Ord-Hume says, Crane and Sons Ltd. Scotland Road and Church Street, Liverpool, with branches also in other provincial towns including Wrexham, Birmingham, Dublin, Belfast and Manchester. In 1899 set up in London at 149 Oxford Circus. Concertina makers. At that time held agency for Doherty organs. In 1902 advertised as the sole agency for Christophe and Etienne harmoniums from 10 to 300 guineas.

Robert ``Fritz'' Gellerman told me that Crane and Sons of Liverpool made instruments until 1921 and then were retailers at 149 Oxford Road, London. His database shows a number of the earlier instruments including a 2MP. These look very much like the ones by Doherty of Canada, see Section 23. There are however others which are different and look like the series of University and Minster Organs built by the Spencers which are described below. They were previously known as Crane Brothers of Liverpool.

My own notes, based on a letter from the firm in 1975, however say: Crane and Sons Ltd. 35-36 Colmore Circus, Queensway Birmingham B46 6BN and Crane Building, Hanover Street, Liverpool L1 3DZ. Cranes were large music dealers who up until 1939 imported reed organs from the USA for re-sale under their own name. However from 1939 to 1969 they marketed their own instruments which were known as the ``University Organ'' and were powered by BOB blowers. There were no facilities to repair them after 1969. Nearly all the ones I've seen however have Millns blowers and look different to all other American or British made instruments I have seen. Neither of these explanations turned out to be entirely correct as the rest of this chapter will show. A full list of the overseas built instruments is shown in Chapter 28.6.1.

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The Database of British Organ Builders contains no information about Cranes, which was at first sight very surprising. It however contains a note on Spencer of Manchester (see below) who it says made ``University Reed Organs''. More information below.

Around 1883 Clarence Lyon founded a piano making firm at Medlar Street, Camberwell, known as Cremona Ltd. They made trade pianos under various names and dealers, such as Paul Newman, Ronson, Barnes of London, Cranes of Manchester and Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool. It now turns out that Cranes also sold small 1M reed organs built by John Malcolm and probably also R.F. Stevens. The instruments looked very similar with characteristic ``webbed feet'' and shaped side panels, but we have evidence from instruments which have been sold recently that both makers were involved in some way. Of course Murdoch was another principal dealer.

Apart from selling pianos, they became well known for the concertina, a free reed instrument invented by Charles Wheatstone in 1829. Cranes sold one of the best models, the Crane Duet which was a large 12 sided instrument not unlike the better known McCann Duet. Such instruments were also built by Wheatstone and Lachenal and now command a high price. Lachenal actually built the special ones for Crane. Duet concertinas had overlapping scales for the right hand and left hand buttons allowing complex harmonies to be played. For this reason the Crane Duet was taken up by the Salvation Army from 1912 onwards for accompanying the outdoor singing of hymns. It was then known as the Salvation Army ``Triumph'' system concertina.

In the case of Crane Duets, they were all made by Lachenal from about 1898. At a later date (1912), Crane may have sold off any rights to the Salvation Army, who renamed them ``Triumph'' - although at the time the patent would have expired. Lachenal continued to supply them, although other makers such as Wheatstone, Crabb and Jeffries also made ``Cranes''. The inventor of the Crane system, John Butterworth of Macclesfield, was a piano tuner who was granted patent no.21,730 in 1897. We don't know quite how Crane came to have the rights, but perhaps their business size and location made them a good candidate for Butterworth to sell his idea to.

The earliest published tutor for the Crane Duet is by H. Wilton-Bulstrode [191]. The cover of this book published in 1898 contains the legend Crane and Sons Ltd. Musical Instrument Manufacturers, Crane's Building, Church Street, Liverpoool and 149 Oxford Street, London. Head Offices and Factories, Scotland Road, Liverpool. For more information on all concertinas, including the various duet models, see the excellent Web site http://www.concertina.com.

Register

For the various reasons noted above, most organs built in England and attributed to Crane and Sons are listed in the Spencer register below. More historical information is also provided in the section on Spencer.

Instruments sold by Crane and Sons have a serial number stamped into the rear edge of the side panels such as C&S12345. They will also have another number which is the original manufacturer's serial number. The C&S ``stock number'' applies to both organs and pianos which they sold. Unfortunately there is no correspondence between the two sets of numbers. The numebers on concertinas appear to be different so give no more useful dating information.

Instruments possibly built by Stevens

See Chapter 17.

Instruments built by Doherty (Canada)

The next few are examples, see also Sections 28.6.1 and 23.

Mr. Leggett's organ 1M

A single manual instrument with 11 stops had been used for many years in a Methodist Church in Wales and was bought by Chris Leggett of Chippenham around 1990. Size of this organ is 120cm x60cm x60cm. This is almost certainly an example of the series of instruments made by Doherty, but imported and sold under the Crane name. The name ``Doherty Organ'' would be cast into the metal frames of the treadles. It seems that later the treadles carried the ``Crane Organ'' name.

Order of the stops is not obvious, but they include: 2 Diapason (treble and bass), 2 Dulciana (treble and bass), Vox Angelica, Vox Celeste, Vox Humana, Principle Forte, Diapason Forte, Bass Octave Coupler, Treble Octave Coupler.

There is a swell and an octave coupler, both operated by the knees.

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Another 1M Doherty organ with the Crane name transfer is in the collection of G.C. Cooke in Western Victoria, Australia. As he points out, this was manufactured in Canada, sold in England, and ended up in a shed in country Australia. Another with high top and mirror is shown in the HVN database, entry 235. Several others are known.

Doherty production declined after 1910 [71], so a different source was found. The list from the 1910 catalogue is probably the most complete one available, see Chapter 28.6.1.

Marchwood Church, e-Bay *1408

This instrument, advertised for sale in Mar'2011, was installed in the church in 1881, presumably new. It is said to be made by Cranmer [sic] and Sons Ltd., Liverpool and London. The list of stops is: Bass Coupler, Principal 4', Piano 4', Diapason 8', Echo 8', Forte, Vox Humana, Forte, Flute 4', Melodia 8', Voix Celeste 8', Dulciana 8', Dulcet 8', Treble Coupler. The break is a tenor G.

The following link contains some pictures of this and similar instruments More Pictures

ROS database entry 1810 1M

Crane and Sons Ltd. Liverpool (and London). This is a parlour style 1 manual instrument said to have been made in 1902. It is finished in English Mahogany and has key range F'''-f''. I suspect its of American origin. It has stops: Dulciana, Diapason, Principal, Octave Coupler, Diapason Forte, Vox Humana, Octave Coupler, Principal Forte, Vox Celeste, Diapason, Dulciana, with 2x treadles and 2x knee swells. It does not quite fit the list in Chapter 28.6.1.

Mine, C&S103971 1863 2MP/7

The black paper name plate on my 2MP organ says Crane & Sons, Birmingham and Liverpool. The gold lettering ``University Organ'', with one word each side, has been almost completely erased from the console front plate for some reason. The only thing I know about the date of manufacture is an inscription on the Vox Humana mechanism saying July 21st 1895. This however seems improbable and Louis Huivenaar, when he saw it on 26/9/2006 suggested it was probably built around 1918. Based on information from John Robinson above, we can now date it accurately to December 1910 or Jan'1911.

I've had this instrument for 30 years and got it via Exchange and Mart (a period UK newspaper for purchasing second hand items pre-dating e-Bay) late in 1973 from a Cinema Organ Society member, William Moore in Coventry. It was moved from Heanor, Derbyshire, where I was brought up, to Draycott, Derbyshire c. 1990 and then from Draycott to Grappenhall, Cheshire where I live now in October 2002. It is now coincidentally back to a location close to where it was made in Manchester. Its a great instrument to play and has a very flexible sound and reasonably ``conventional'' console layout making it a good practice instrument. The 1/4 HP blower is a later addition and a bit over specified though!

Swell:                          Great:
Salicional 8'                   Diapason 8'
Voix Celeste 8'                 Dulciana 8'
Oboe 8'                         Trombone 16'
Forte II                        Principal 4'
Flute 4'                        Forte I
Vox Humana                        
                                
Couplers:                       Pedal:
Swell to Great                  Great to Pedal
Bass Coupler                    Sub Bass 16'
Treble Couple                   Bourdon 16'

1x Grand Jeu
1x latch swell
2x exhaust pedals + 1x handle
Millns blower with Meidinger 0.25 HP motor

The organ is tuned to the Philharmonic pitch, 1/4 semitone higher than current pitch, at A=452.5Hz. This was popular in Britain in the late 19th century.

This organ now appears in Robert Gellerman's database as RFG-0170.

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Eric Allcock's University Organ 2MP/7

An identical instrument to mine, also from Crane and Sons, came up for sale on e-Bay. This had belonged to the late Eric Allcock, organist of Blackpool Parish Chuch who lived in Lytham St. Annes and used it as a practice instrument. He sold it in 2001 from where it travelled to a church in Gloucester where it was again for sale. The old blower had become noisy and was scrapped but the instrument was then not used and was still without a blower when it was again offered for sale in June 2007 (surprisingly it did not attract any bids). Other than the webbing for the treadles having become detached, it appeared to be in excellent condition and has clearly been well maintained.

Some in December 2007 I received an e-mail from Stephen Hogger as follows: I purchased this instrument in June 2007 which seems to be in good condition and has been inspected by an employee of Bishop and Son, Ipswich who added a suction motor to it for me. The blowing handle is missing and the treadle pedals disconnected as they were when I purchased it. It now resides in the choir vestry at Lavenham Parish church in Suffolk and is temporarily at the west end of said church for use in our carol service on Sunday. It sounds fabulous under the tower space and is an amazingly loud instrument.

Lavenham is often described as England's best preserved medieval town. Many of its outstanding half-timbered houses, often still painted traditional ``Suffolk pink'', had survived - even if some are now so crooked it looks as if they might tumble at any moment. Worthy of note is the magnificent wool church of St. Peter and St. Paul with its 141 foot high tower. This and other buildings testify to the financial riches accumulated here in the past, but now form part of a legacy of incalculable wealth that can be enjoyed for generations to come, alongside the countryside that inspired some of the finest paintings in the history of English landscape art. It was at nearby Flatford Mill that Constable's family once lived. John Constable painted in the area in the early 19th Century, and died here in 1837.

Mine, C&S176229 2472 University Organ 3MP/10

I saw this one for sale on the Web in December 2002. It was in the private collection of restorer Charles Birkin of North Wales. Charles maintained a Web site for reed organ purchases and sales, http://www.reedorgans.co.uk now run by Chris and Paul Hampson. He acquired this instrument around 9 months previously from a Roman Catholic church in Chester, but had not touched it since. It has a tilted upper keyboard which is more often a feature of theatre organs and certainly unusual for reed organs. This however helps technically with the Great to Pedal coupler mechanism which has to pass beneath the Solo manual. It probably dates the instrument to around 1920-30, Louis suggested c.1928.

I went to view it on 15/12/2002 in his new workshop. Charles had retired and was selling his remaining instruments so that the old outbuildings could be converted to living accommodation. Very sad that he had a huge collection of spares and some 5 big organs left, although mostly in poor condition (most were later sold). Having, not exactly fallen in love, but decided it was what I'd always wanted, I agreed to buy the instrument and it arrived at my house in Grappenhall on 12th January 2003. It was unloaded from a Transit van by Charles' builder and his mate and pushed uncerimonially into my front room alongside the previous 2MP/7 with some considerable difficulty and only half an inch each side of the door frame to spare. Thanks also to my neighbour Dave for helping!

I particularly like late 19th century music and the reedy sound of this instrument, especially the Clarinet on the Solo manual, is ideally suited to it; a bit like many French church organs which sound so completely different to English ones. In fact the arrangement of Great-Swell-Solo is also similar to the Grand-Recit-Positif of classical French instruments. It has a huge range of sound from very quiet - Seraphone and Flute d'Amour, to very load - with the Grand Jeu pedal coupling Swell and Great with everything except Oboe and octave couplers. The first swell pedal operates both Swell and Great shutters leaving the independent Forte stops useful, and the Great Diapason has its own small shade, as does the Cremona, which are almost closed for the Flute d'Amour and Seraphone using the same reed ranks and with their mutes half open. This is quite effective and much better than just opening the mutes a fraction of their normal amount. The device was probably invented by Estey in the USA and was also adopted by Burdett and some German builders. This was an arrangment which worked well and had been used by Mason and Hamlin, and Estey in the USA and several German manufacturers such as Mannborg. 2.

Swell:                          Solo:
Oboe 8'                         Seraphone 8' (derived)
Voix Celeste 8'                 Cremona 8'
  (derived from Oboe and Salic) Clarinet 16'
Salicional 8'                   Violetta 4'
Flute 4'                        Tremolo
Forte II                        Forte
Vox Humana                      
                                Great:
Couplers:                       Flute d'Amour 8' (derived)
Swell to Great                  Diapason 8'
Treble Coupler                  Trombone 16'
Bass Coupler                    Principal 4'
                                Forte I
                                
                                Pedals:
                                Great to Pedal
                                Bourdon 16' (derived)
                                Open Diapason 16'

1x Grand Jeu
2x swell pedals (Swell+Great and Solo)
2x exhaust pedals + 1x handle
Millns blower with Meidinger 0.2HP motor

This organ is tuned to modern Concert Pitch, A=440Hz. This had become normal in English organs prior to 1929 when it was also adopted by military bands. Before that A=435Hz Diapason Normal was common in Europe and adopted as a standard in the USA in 1891. Levi Fuller of the Estey Organ Company may have been influencial in this decision - many reed organs are therefore in this pitch. Many are however sharp, at A=452Hz which was common in London from 1885 and similar to the pitch then used in military bands and pianofortes. A=440Hz became the concert standard in the USA in 1917 and was international by 1939. It is now ISO standard number 16. As an aside we note that Victor Mustel, the most eminent of the French harmonium builders, had been pressing for a standardised pitch since 1880 so that his instruments could be used in ensembles. Nevertheless he built instruments with a wide range of pitches, probably responding to customer requests. For more information about the history of pitch see http://www.piano-tuners.org/history/pitch.html.

In fact we now know have supporting evidence, as explained by Louis Huivenaar, that this organ was built c.1928-9.

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Disley Baptist Church

Another 3MP Crane, looking very much like a University Organ, but finished in dark oak rather than light oak, was advertised on e-Bay in February 2004. It was in Disley Baptist Church near Manchester. It was sold on 16th February for approx £450. This has flat stop jambs, so is c.1928, but does have balanced swell pedals rather than the earlier latches. The University organ in Deganwy has the same shaped console and we know it was purchased in 1929 so probably built in 1928.

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It is quite possible that this is a Minster Organ by Spencer, see below. Possibly the University Organs were finished in light oak, but the Minster Organs in dark wood like walnut or mahogany. This one is probably stained oak. There seem to be no other difference.

2MP Number 2092

This instrument appeared for sale in the Gig Harbor area of Washington, USA. It is said to carry the name of Crane and Sons, Wrexham and Liverpool and the serial numbers C&S 135019 and 2092, the latter we now know to be the Spencers' production number. The owner poetically claimed it had come around the Cape from England at the turn of the Century. The asking price was $5,000, which presumably wasn't achieved.

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We note that Number 2270 is an almost identical instrument that was sold in 2007 and is now in Bala, Wales.

Some other organs attributed to Crane are listed under the section on Spencer below 16.2.


The Spencers (1855-c.1963)

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The Spencers appear to be one of the most enigmatic but longest surviving English manufacturers. Gellerman [71] shows a small reproduction drawing of a 2MP University organ which looks un-cannily like the instruments sold by Crane and Sons. We now know that there is an even closer connection. They rarely sold instruments directly to the public, so most of them were ``stencilled'' by dealers.

It seems that for a long period the Spencer business was run from 217-219 Hyde Rd., Manchester. A number of post cards exist which were sent to that address in the period 1891 to 1906. They are requests for catalogues or loans of instruments to music dealers. Census information confirms that several members of the family lived there too.

It is said that E.J. Spencer owned the company known as Spencer and Co. of 217-9 Hyde Road, Manchester. They were piano and American organ manufacturers from 1896 to at least 1921, building the Cleveland organ and the Annexe, a combined piano and organ. Gellerman, in his las [71] also notes: Spencer Bros. 81 Hyde Road, Manchester. Pipe organ, piano and harmonium builders 1880-85.

The 3 Longsight Terrace address, now doesn't exist. It seems the street names have been changed, and it must have been one of a number of terraces off Stockport Road in Gorton or Longsight from that time which are now gone. There are however other historical references, for example it was occupied by one Robert Hunt c.1858.

Pictures of Upper Brook Street are shown on the Manchester City Council Libraries Service Web site http://www.images.manchester.gov.uk. The area was surveyed by H.W. Beaumont in 1959 prior to demolition of the old houses and shops and erection of new University buildings in 1965-69. As far as I can ascertain, number 96 was in 1959 a large terraced shop on the west side of Upper Brook Street, just north of Eldon Street (now gone) and Brunswick Street. According to Slater's directory it had been occupied by Oscar Lux, a billiard table maker in 1895. The demolition in this area probably brought an end to the Spencer firm's activities.

217-219 Hyde Road also no longer exists, it is however likely to have been near to the famous Manchester City football ground off Bennett Street. The Manchester City Council Web site provides the following fascinating photos of factories in this West Gorton area, these date from 1958 and were demolished soon after. ©Manchester City Libraries.

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John Spencer, c.1865-1985

The London Gazette of 25/8/1865 carried the following entry: John Spencer Dane, late of Spring Gardens, but now of Dew Street, in the town and county of Haverfordwest, Music Seller, and Organ, Pianoforte, and Harmonium Builder and Tuner, having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, filed in Her Majesty's Court of Bankruptcy for the Bristol District, on the 22nd day of August, 1865 is hereby required to surrender himself to the Honourable Montague Wilde, the Registrar of the said Court, at the first meeting of creditors to be held before the said Registrar, on the 6th of Sepember next, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon precisely, at the said Court, at Bristol. Alfred John Acraman, Esq., of no.19, St Augustine's Place, Bristol, is the Official Assignee, and Mr. A. Henderson, of Bristol, is the Solicitor acting in the bankruptcy.

15/9/1865: John Spencer Dane ... having been adjudged bankrupt under a Petition for adjudication of Bankruptcy, filed in Her Majesty's Court of Bankruptcy for the Bristol District, on the 22nd of August, 1865, a public sitting, for the said bankrupt to pass his Last Examination, and make application for his Discharge, will be held before Matthew Davenport Hill, Esq., the Commissioner of the said Court, on the 17th of October next, at the said Court, at the Guildhall, Bristol, at eleven o'clock in the forenoon precisely, the day last aforesaid being the day limited for the said bankrupt to surrender. Mr. Alfred John Acraman, of no.19, St. Augustine's Place, Bristol, is the Official Assignee, and Mr. A. Henderson, of Bristol, is the Solicitor acting in the bankruptcy.

On 20/10/1865 it the carried the following entry: John Spencer Dane ... adjudicated bankrupt on the 22nd day of August, 1865. An Order of Discharge was granted by the Court of Bankruptcy for the Bristol District, at Bristol, on the 17th day of October, 1865.

Ezra John Spencer and Emily Longshaw, 1885-1915

For a long time I did not know how Edward J. Spencer fitted into the picture. He is listed in the 1901 Census as being 31 years old, born in Swansea and occupied as an organ builder in south Manchester. There was an Ezra Spencer, then aged 44 and also an organ builder in south Manchester having been born in Alderley Edge. George and Arthur Spencer are not listed in the 1901 Census and are also not listed in the 1895 Slaters Trade Directory as far as I can see

I was contacted in the summer of 2007 by Paul Spencer, grandson of Edward Spencer, who filled out the family history as he knows it. Paul is still helping to find connections to the organ building trade, and un-earthed a very early advertisement from J. Spencer Dane and Sons, of 19 Union Street, Swansea. This states that they were organ and harmonium builders. Their harmoniums are listed from 1 rank and 1 stop at £5-5s to four ranks and 14 stops at £21 net and an exhibition model with 14 stops at £26-5s. This also sold Alexandre harmoniums and pianos manufactured in London and built and enlarged church organs (pipe organs) from £31-10s for the smallest with 3 stops. The name Cottage Harmonium was given to their cost effective model in a pine case for £4-10s. This advert also states that they were Appointed by the Lords of the Admiralty Organ Builder for Her Majesty's Government, March 1868. This is probably from the 1875 directory.

Walter George Spencer

The business we know was started by Walter George Spencer (b.1856-d.1934) who, according to Ord-Hume, died in Apr'1934 aged 77. He had gained a reputation for the manufacture of high quality reed organs at moderate prices with a strong market at home and for export. The business was later continued by Charles F. Spencer.

Arthur James Spencer and Mary (Mabel) Dalrymple

Circa 1901, it is quite possible that there were now two or three separate businesses: A.J. Spencer Ltd., Charles F. Spencer and Edward Spence or Spence and Co. Add H.S. Dane added to cause real confusion.

Arthur James Spencer of 3 Longsight Terrace, Stockport Road, Manchester (1901-12) and 96 Upper Brook Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester (works, works, 1913-40) is listed in the Database of British Organ Builders as a manufacturer of University Reed Organs, also known as Albaphon and Minster organs. Arthur died at 2 Earl Street, Lower Broughton, Salford on 10/6/1928. This address is is listed in Kelly's 19 as being his residence. The house and 1927 furnishings were left to his un-married daughter Frances, the rest of his estate with a gross value of £1211 was left to Mary Dalrymple, his wife. She took over as Chairman of the Directors of A.J. Spencer Limited in 1928, in fact she payed £700 for shares in the company on 6/11/1928.

We have a copy of an agreement, the first page of which reads as follows. A Agreement made the 28th day of January 1929 between Arthur J. Spencer Limited whose registered office is situate at 96 Upper Brook Street Chorlton-on-Medlock in the City of Manchester (herein after called ``the Company'') of the first part, Mabel Spencer of 2 Balmoral Avenue Whitefield Manchester aforesaid Widow of the second part, and Charles Francis Spencer of 57 North Road Longsight in the said City of Manchdster Organ Builder of the third part whereas. 1) The Company recently incorporated with a nominal capital of one thousand pounds divided into six hundred A shares of one pounds each, two hundred B shares of one pound each and two hundred C shares of one pound each. 2) The Company was incorporated with the intention amongst other things of purchasing or otherwise acquiring as a going concern the business formerly carried on by the said Mabel Spencer under the style or form of Arthur J. Spencer and of the issued share capital the said Mabel Spencer holds five hundred A shares of one pound each fully paid and one hundred C shares of one pound each fully paid. 3) The said Charles Francis Spencer has by the ...

Edward James Spencer and Fred Longshaw, from 1915

Emily re-married after Ezra's death c.1908. Emily Taylor's will contains these important paragraphs:

I authorize my trustees if my brother the said Fred Longshaw shall in his absolute discretion think it desirable so to do to carry on the trade or business of Organ Builders and Pianoforte Dealers carried on by me at 219 Hyde Rd. Ardwick Manchester under the style or form of ``Spence & Co.'' during such period as the said Fred Longshaw shall think fit, and for that purpose to retain and employ therein the capital that shall at my death be employed therein and such additional capital as they shall think fit to advance from time to time out of my residuary estate with power to employ at such salary as they shall think fit, managers, clerks, workmen and servants (including if thought fit the said Edward Spencer) and generally to act in all matters relating to the said business as if they were beneficially entitled thereto and also with power to delegate all or any of the powers vested in them in relation to the said business to any persons or person whom they may think fit, and my trustees shall be free from all responsibility and be fully indemnified out of my estate in respect of any loss arising in relation to the said business.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 21st day of July 1915.

Walter George Jnr., Charles Francis Spencer and T. Lomas

In the 1950s the firm was still trading as Arthur J. Spencer Limited and the directors were W.G. Spencer, C.F. Spencer and T. Lomas. Evidence for this comes from a note in National Archives which references a bill from the firm in 1950 for a re-conditioned University Organ for Stretford All Saints Parish Church. There was another bill in 1957 for further repairs and removal of the organ to another church. Very direct evidence comes from a personal letter which has survived from C.F. Spencer to W. Richardson dated 24/3/1950 (see picture above). At this time the firm was operating from the 96 Upper Brook Street address.

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Louis Huivenaar suggested that my 2MP number 1863 dates from around 1918 and my 3MP number 2472 from around 1928. This suggests that Spencers were building some 60 organs per year and must have been a sizeable concern, even if many parts were bought in. However if Brian Style's number 2405 was in fact built in 1938 as its name plate suggests, then much of our other information could be wrong and they only built 27 per year. We now know however from direct communication with Charles F. Spencer that numbers 1862 and 1863 were made c.1910.

William Richardson, owner of number 1862, wrote in 1950 to the Spencer firm to confirm the origin of his 2MP organ from c.1910. Charles replied to him saying that this instrument was Style ``C'' sold to the trade for £37-14s but should have retailed at 60 Gns. His other comments are quite moving: ... this was before I was on the clerical side, I was then just at the bench learning to make a bigger and better (in some ways) organ, there is no doubt I had a hand in the one you have. ... You will no doubt be pleased to have a list showing our latest model, we can only make an odd one for the home market which is a pity, we are exporting a nice number abroad, some day maybe when I am near your part of the world I would be delighted to be asked to see this child of our labours which is now one of your treasures.

The only definate dating information we have is from contributors and is recorded in the table below, which shows (where available) both the Spencer production number and Crane and Sons show room number. We would be grateful for any further evidence to improve this information.

Date or Year C&S No. Organ Works No. Number produced
Dec'1910   1862  
  103971 1863  
July 1914   0157 (?)  
  135019 2092  
4/5/1928   2143  
sold 1929 144546 2166  
1938   2405  
  176229 2472  
May 1962   6528  

Numbers and dates from some pianos:

C&S 96703 (1899)
C&S 128779 (1935)

The numbers on concertinas also seem to be different:

Lachenal 82 - C&S 399 from 1898
Lachenal 256 - C&S 844 from 1900
215 or 225 - C&S 887
Lachenal 693 - C&S 8808 from 1905

Ian Thompson notes: I met a chap who worked at Spencers before they closed in (I think) the late 1960s. I had the impression that by then they were building only one manual instruments of very traditional specification but with built in blowers and very un-appealing casework. This is in fact like the one I saw in Mapleton Church mentioned below. Some other examples are now shown.

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The name University Organ deserves some explanation. Clearly these organs were built as practice instruments in addition to their common use in small churches, and may indeed have been used in universities or other establishments for the teaching of music. However the most likely origin is that Upper Brook Street in Manchester runs right behind the Manchester University main campus buildings to which I am a regular visitor. The Victoria University of Manchester was founded in 1824 and when it combined with the University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology (UMIST), 96 Upper Brook Street was mentioned in the Act of Parliament which was necessary as an instrument to transfer ownership, see Schedule 1 Part 1 from http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/locact04/40004-e.htm. Lot number 607 was still listed as 96 Upper Brook Street and land at rear of 96-102 Upper Brook Street and land on north side of Eldon Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester (Registered Title Number LA29746 and LA21281). This row of four shops preceeding the turning into Eldon Street is shown in the photo ©Manchester City Libraries. Clearly this is not a factory for large-scale organ production, so perhaps they had works still on Hyde Road?

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The Royal Northern College of Music is nearby (founded 1893), on the crossroads of Oxford Road and West Dover Street. Interestingly, according to Ord-Hume, there was also a harmonium wholesaler called F.W. Paeger at 77 Brook Street c.1930. Albert Wagstaff was another dealer (see below).

Several models of reed organ are attributed to Spencer as listed in the table below. I personally only know of examples of the University and Minster organs, but ROS-3666 is said to be a College Organ. We will also return to the story of the Albaphon when discussing the contribution of Albert Wagstaff. It is clear from the list that E.J. Spencer did also make reed organs, but I still don't know if this was Edward or Ezra.

Name Manufacturer Period Comments
Albaphon A.J. Spencer 1855-1963 2M, 2MP, 3MP
Annexe piano-organ E.J. Spencer    
Cleveland Reed Organ E.J. Spencer    
College Organ A.J. Spencer   2MP
Minster Organ G. and A.J. Spencer 1855-1963 1M, 2M, 2MP, 3MP
University Organ G. and A.J. Spencer 1855-1963 2M, 2MP, 3MP

I have had several conversations with Louis Huivenaar about Spencer organs. He has restored several of them, including probably the earliest 3MP, and accumulated a good deal of historical evidence for dating them. This shows that the earlier instruments were built by George Spencer. George actually signed the instruments, and included the date and place of manufacture on the top of the soundboards beneath the keys (see photo below). After 1925 Arthur Spencer took over the business, but he no longer signed the instruments. This makes dating hard, but circumstantial evidence based on the type of materials used, disposition of the console and the inclusion of an electric blower can give a good indication. I have tried to include dating information based on the changes to console style in the register below.

rfg-2756.jpg

The winding arrangement of the later instruments is as follows. After 1932 a big reservoir bellows and a connection on the outside at the back was fitted, actually at the lower RH corner when viewed from the rear. My 3MP has this. It is fitted with a special regulator to a blower, usualy a BOB although mine from c.1928 is a Millns as noted ablove. Mine also has all the other pumping arrangements still functioning.

John Robinson's 2MP/5 number 1862

This organ was built by Arthur J. Spencer Ltd. of Manchester in December 1910. It is a full 2MP instrument, but slightly smaller than the more usual specification, see mine above. I have been in contact with John Robinson, who was selling it on e-Bay in Aug'2008 and he has provided some very useful information. His own Web site is at http://www.johnrobinsonorganist.com.

Papers accompanying the instrument indicate that it was owned by a Professor of Music at Manchester University and an organist at Carlisle Cathedral. It is interesting that they favoured this specification with no 4' stops.

Swell:                          Great:
Salicional 8'                   Diapason 8'
Voix Celeste 8'                 Dulciana 8'
Oboe 8'                         Trombone 16'
Vox Humana                      Forte I
Forte II
                                
Couplers:                       Pedal:
Swell to Great                  Great to Pedal
Bass Coupler                    Sub Bass 16'
Treble Couple                   Bourdon 16'

1x Grand Jeu
1x latch swell
2x exhaust pedals + 1x handle

The instrument has the serial number 1862 stamped on the back and accompanying documentation states that it is a Model ``C'' originally costing £37-14s. It is now owned by Gwyn Lishman and used as a practice instrument.

Gwyn said: I have been wondering about the lack of 4' ranks, unlike my other 2M Spencer number 2509. The organ does however have plenty of ``clout'' where you wouldn't particularly notice the higher ranks but I miss them nonetheless. My wife has noticed the increased noise levels leaving the garage, as no.1862 was certainly built for volume. The Diapason rank is miles out of tune compared to its louder neighbour Dulciana, however for some reason becomes unnoticable when all stops are out.

Robert Gellerman's database number RFG-0681

More confirmation is the photograph shown in Robert Gellerman's database of a 3MP University Organ. This is a relatively early one with flat stop jambs, fluted case sides and latch-type swell pedals. It also appears in the database of the Netherlands Harmonium Vereniging HVN-0281. It is probably number 0157 described below.

rfg-0681.jpg

Fritz Gellerman's database entry 3197 is a similar one, but the photo is rather poor quality.

Mr Patten's 3MP/12

Another ``University'' 3MP instrument was advertised on Mr. Birkin's Web site 24/9/2003 by Mr. R. Patten of Chichester. It was fully working last time he inspected it, but had since been stored in garage with much other stuff, including a 2MP Estey. It has a lightish colour wooden case, with quality folding glass doors over the keyboard. He paid £1,500 for this instrument about 4 years previously from Bruce Dracott of Cambridge Reed Organs who had maintained it during the 1990s. Both instruments were for sale to make way for the purchase of a second-hand full-specification 3-manual electronic organ; shame!

This is another early instrument, the ``gothic'' detailing on the case is interesting.

The specification is slightly altered from the original.

Swell:                          Solo:
Oboe 8'                         Seraphone 8'
Voix Celeste 8'                 Cremona 8'
Salicional 8'                   Clarinet 16'
Flute 4'                        Violetta 4'
Forte II                        Tremolo

Pedal Violoncello 8'
                                
Couplers:                       Great:
Swell to Great                  Dulciana 8'
Octave Coupler                  Diapason 8'
Great to Pedal                  Trombone 16'
                                Principal 4'         
                                Forte I
                                
                                Pedals:
                                Bourdon 16'
                                Open Diapason 16'
				Sub Bourdon 32'

1x Grand Jeu
2x latch-down swell pedals (Swell+Great and Solo) have been
   disconnected to make space for the extra Pedal ranks
2x exhaust pedals + 1x handle have been removed
external blower and regulator valves

This is an interesting modification with the Swell Vox Humana replaced by the extra 8' pedal stop and the Great-Pedal moved to the left jamb replacing the Bass Coupler to make room for the 32' stop knob. Three latch-down foot pedals were originally fitted, but two were disconnected during refurbishment to allow for a the 32' pedal stop to be accommodated. The remaining pedal, marked ``Grand Organ'', engages the Great stops. This sounds as if the two swell pedals are disconnected which seems rather strange. We note that the treadles have also been removed and covered over. I think this could have been done differently.

r.pattens_3mpa_small.jpg More Pictures

Actually, on looking at the photograph of the rear of this instrument I think that not only have the treadles been removed but also all the original bellows.

Robert Patten has been very helpful in providing information about this instrument which is unique and clearly once much loved. He wrote later to inform me that it had been sold to an organist from a large church in France who had been travelling in the UK looking for organ pipes. He planned to use it for himself and a student for practice. The same gentleman also bought a 2MP Estey which Robert Patten was selling at the same time.

Another restored by Louis Huivenaar

In late 2003 Louis Huivenaar delivered a 3MP Spencer, totally restored and tuned in A=440Hz to a female and male choir with a special baritone choir. This was a late model with Solo to Swell and Swell to Pedal couplers. A CD was made with a Mass by Widor and Vierne for 2 organs. Louis said Amazing what the Spencer can do. The CD is now on the market. You will love it. 3

St. Wilfrid's, Alderslade 3MP/10

Mr. S.M. Shaw of Kent of Sidcup, Kent, advertised this University Organ for sale in Exchange and Mart 8/5/1977. Ex. St. Wilfrid's Church, Alderslade, Kent (demolished c. 1975). Note the additional coupler, but some possible doubt over the other stops! It probably just has 10 ranks like Mr. Birkin's, although there might be an extra pedal rank, but it is more likely that the Clarinet belongs to the Solo department. According to Louis Huivenaar the additional coupler dates the organ at post 1933 and later ones would also have had Swell-Pedal.

Swell:                          Solo:
Oboe                            Flute d'Amour
Flute                           Salicional
Vox Celeste                     Violetta
Forte II                        Tremolo
                                Forte III
Couplers:
Solo to Swell                   Great:
Swell to Great                  Cremona
Sub octave Great                Diapason
Super octave Great              Tromba
                                Forte I
                                Principal 4'

                                Pedal:
                                Great to Pedal
                                Clarinet 16
                                Open Diapason 16
                                Bourdon 16

Another possible 3MP/10 Minster Organ in Gt. Yarmouth

Cinema Organ Society Newsletter, March 1976: For sale. Very rare reed organ c.1900. 3x61 note manuals, 30 note conc./ rad. pedal board. 10 ranks, 4 couplers, 2 trems. 2 balanced swell pedals and full organ pedal. Solid walnut console with lockable bevelled glass doors, matching bench. Separate quiet electric cent. exhauster or can be pumped by hand or foot. Size H56''; W58''; D30''. Offers/ further details, John Malt, Gt. Yarmouth.

ROS DB entry ROS-0709

A parlour organ serial number 6197 is listed as ROS DB entry 709. It has F-f key range and stops: Bass Coupler, Dulcet 8', Diapason 8', Vox Humana, Melodia 8', Echo 8' and Treble Coupler.

spencer-0709.jpg

2M/6 from e-Bay

A 2M/6 Spencer was advertised on e-Bay, March 2004 in Northwich.

I am auctioning this unusual organ for a friend of mine. The console is built on the same lines as a proper pipe organ, the case work is oak, and it has its original stool, it all seems to work ok. It has speaking stops to both great and swell manuals, gt.to sw. couplers plus sub octave and octave coupers. Has a good quality and rich sound it has the usual two pedals but this can easy be converted with a small blower. Or the console could be used as the ground work to build yourself a small pipe organ.

This has the gold University Organ lettering on the front and also the black Crane and Sons label. Unfortunately the bid price didn't get above £50 - these smaller instruments are seriously under valued!

spencer_2m.jpg spencer_2mb.jpg

Another 2M/6 on e-Bay

Another, almost identical, appeared on e-Bay from a seller in Ruislip at the end of June 2007.

Izak Lindhout's 2MP/7 Minster Organ

This fine instrument was advertised in December 2005 by Kensington Music of Preston. It was described as: Minster Church Organ with full pedalboard. This instrument is very old, but in working order. Sound generation by means of reeds and an electric blower. We don't have an exact date of manufacture, but we estimate it to be around 100 years old. We are one of the biggest and longest established piano and organ warehouses in the UK. Our Ebay pricing is extremely competitive and you are more than welcome to come up and inspect the instrument before bidding. All our Ebay sales still qualify for our normal after-sales service, so you get peace of mind should you experience any technical problems. You can also reach us on the telephone and we are very happy to discuss any queries you might have.

Ian Thompson had spoken to the advertiser who is a partner in Kensington Music, but about to retire. Louis Huivenaar noted: It is a 2mp Spencer, and built by George Spencer. in his late days. In later times they have built in a blower, cut the big main bellows 2/3 of its size. Look to the valve (for the underpressure opens) on the back of the bellows. It is not in the middle of this bellows. Just a normal 7 rows instrument. They are very nice to play on.

minster_2mp_back.jpg

The specification is slightly different.

Swell:                       Great:
Oboe 8'                      Trombone 16'
Vox Celeste 8'               Diapason 8'
Salicional 8'                Dulciana 8'
Forte II                     Principal 4'
Vox Humana                   Forte I
Violetta 4'                     

Couplers:                    Pedal:
Swell to Great               Great to Pedal
Sub Octave Gt.               Bourdon 16'
Super Octave Gt.             Sub Bass 16'

This was actually purchased by Izak Lindhout living in Tholen (Zeeland), The Netherlands. He collected and transported it in mid May 2006. He contacted me a couple of weeks later to say that the instrument is working, but runs out of wind. This is a problem that I have also had. He told me that it bears a Rushworth and Dreaper name plate on the front and serial number 2185 on the rear. This was later confirmed with a few photos.

minster_2mp_1_small.jpg More Pictures

Colin Jackson's 2M/6 Minster Organ serial number 2221

This instrument, in Barnsley and in a rather sorry state but probably still playable, appeared on e-Bay in September 2006. The shape of the sound openings underneath the Great manual indicate that this instrument is the same age as the above 2M/6 University organ and the 2MP/7 Minster organ. The serial numbers 2185 and 2221 now prove this.

It was eventually bought by Colin Jackson who contacted me in October. He payed £23 for the instrument and moved it to his home in Rothwell, Lincolnshire in October. He noted that it was indeed playable, but really needs an electric blower. He has carried out a few repairs and the instrument now seems to have a good home, now in New Holland, North Lincs.

jackson_2m6.jpg More Pictures

2M/6 St. Catherine's, Kingsdown

Bryn Clinch contacted me in May 2011 with the following information. I recently discovered a reed organ in the redundant church St. Catherine, Kingsdown, nr. Sittingbourne, Kent. This church is within the ``realm'' of Lord Kingsdown, former Governor of the Bank of England. The building is the only Anglican church completed by E.W. Pugin. I have attached a photo of church and organ and hope that it may be of interest. As you can see the organ is by A.J. Spencer but there is no opus number and having no knowledge of reed organs I didn't realise that these instruments were numbered. If this information is of any interest, I will return and take a closer look. Please use the photo as you wish.

stcatherine_kingsdown.jpg spencer_2m_kingsdown.jpg

[other photos on Flikr show interior of church]

Richard Brice's 2MP number 2016

Richard Brice from Maryport, Cumbria purchased this instrument in 2011, originally sold by Crane and Sons, Wrexham. He noted that it came from a church in Wales and is finished in walnut.

Since purchase, he has carried out extensive restoration and modification. It has been dismantled to allow the pallets to be re-leatherd, the keyboards levelled, the bellows repaired a Swell to Pedal coupler added and the whole instrument moved to a first floor landing. Because of restricted space, the pedals have also been shortened by 8 inches.

coupler_brice.jpg

This instrument is now owned by Richard Knight in Cockermouth who at one time worked for Rushworth and Dreaper.

Claus Seiler's 3MP number 2027

Frans van der Grijn told me of one in Holland for sale. It is of standard specification but slightly earlier than mine as it has the two swell pedals on on the left and one on the right of the treadles. I was later contacted as follows:

My name is Claus Seiler, I'm living in Wadgassen, which is a village near Saarbrücken in the south western part of Germany near the French border. With this mail I just want to inform you about my 3MP/10 University Organ. I guess this is the organ you cite in your fantastic internet site as ``3MP for sale in Holland March 2006''. I bought it in April last year from a very kind Dutch enthusiast, Mr. Johan Meijer, who did the whole restoration (he is in contact with Louis Huivenaar), so that the instrument is in a pretty good condition (nevertheless I'm strongly interested in information and hints about its maintenance).

spencer_2027.jpg

This is an amazing photograph! It shows how an 80 year old English reed organ can be perfectly integrated into a modern mid-European house by someone who is seriously interested in music.

e-Bay *8166, number 2030

A University reed organ was for sale on e-Bay in Jan'2013 with swell pedal and ``solid oak'' cabinetry, but no bench. It had been originally purchased by the Methodist church in which it still stood from Crane and Son in Manchester in 1924 for £79-10s. There is a copy of the stamped receipt with the organ. It requires some minor repairs. Has a Swiss made blower in good working order. The church, un-used for three years, has been converted to a home forcing sale.

Richard Brice made enquiries and was told that it has serial number 2030 which ties in with the invoice date. It is very similar to his own instrument, no. 2016 and the same case style as Claus Seiler's no. 2027 above, but a 2MP.

3MP/10 Deganwy number 2166

This instrument, from the Peniel C.M. chapel, Deganwy, north Wales was advertised on e-Bay in December 2006. I contacted the seller and received some additional and very interesting information.

spencer_deganwy2.gif

The instrument, which is probably from 1928, was bought in 1929 from Cranes of Liverpool who had a music shop at 156 High Street, Bangor. It was installed in the Deganwy chapel. The opening recital was given by Mr. John Williams FRCO ARCM on 11/7/1929 - on 9/12/06 it sold for £510.

The instrument was purchased by Derek in Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland. It was sold again on e-Bay in July 2013 owing to a house move.

RFG-4500 3MP

This one is somewhat different and a late model with built in blower. It was seen by Fanz van der Grijn who sent the information to Fritz Gellerman.

Swell:                          Solo:			      
Oboe 8'                         Seraphone 8' (derived)      
Voix Celeste 8'                 Cremona 8'		      
  (derived from Oboe and Salic) Clarinet 16'		      
Salicional 8'                   Violetta 4'		      
Flute 4'                        Tremolo		      
Vox Humana                      			      
                                Great:		      
Couplers:                       Flute d'Amour 8' (derived)  
Swell to Great                  Diapason 8'		      
Treble Coupler                  Trombone 16'
Bass Coupler                    Principal 4'
	      
                                Pedals:		      
                                Great to Pedal		      
                                Bourdon 16' (derived)	      
                                Open Diapason 16'           

1x Grand Jeu
3x swell pedals (Swell, Great and Solo)

rfg-4500.jpg

This has a separate swell pedal for each manual, so does not need the Forte stops.

e-Bay item 290123781747

This instrument, with no pictures, came up for sale in June 2007 and didn't attract a high price as it was in very poor condition having been partly dismantled at some time. The specification cited was slightly different to normal and I have still to ascertain if it is correct.

Swell:                          Solo:			      
Oboe 8'                         Trumpet 8'
Voix Celeste 8'                 Orchestral Oboe 8'
Flute d'Amor 8'                 Clarinette 8'		      
Violin Diapason 8'              Concert Flute 4'		      
Gemshorn 4'                     Tremolo		      
Vox Humana                      [another stop]

                                Great:		      
Couplers:                       Open Diapason 8'
Swell to Great                  Dulciana 8'
Sub Octave to Great             Trombone 16'
Super Octave to Great           Principal 4'
                                Harmonic Flute 4'
      
                                Pedals:		      
                                Great to Pedal      
                                Open Diapason 16'           
                                Bourdon 16'

1x Grand Jeu
3x swell pedals (Swell, Great and Solo)

I have received photographs of this instrument, but no further information. It may have been modified at some time and was fitted with a Discus blower by Watkins and Watson of London, as it still carries the start/ stop switch. It has flat stop jambs so would have had treadles which have been removed to make space for the third swell pedal. The Forte stops have probably been removed to allow for the additional speaking stops which may be derived.

sad_spencer.jpg

2MP in North Holland

Another 2MP from this period, but in rather better condition, was advertised at the same time on a Dutch Web site muziek.marktplaats.nl. This was from Hoogkarspel in Noord-Holland. It is said to be from 1929, in excellent condition, and the asking price was E1500. It clearly has the University Organ lettering on the console and a label which claims it is by A. Spencer.

holland_front.jpg

Brian Styles' 3MP number 2405

Brian's University organ carries an ivory name plate as follows:

spencer_2405_label_small.jpg

The number is confirmed as it is stamped into the end grain on the top treble end of the instrument. This is the only one I know of with such a name plate with the name of the firm. The Liverpool address also is intriguing; this may have been an exhibition piece.

Being of later build, this organ also has the Swell-Pedal coupler, but still no couplers to the Solo. The Treble and Bass couplers are now Super Octave Great and Sub Octave Great.

This is actually quite an unusual instrument, similar to the mine, but with ivory stop knobs. It is the only one I know of like this and also one of a very few sold directly by Spencers, hence the ivory name plate. It may have been made to order, for whom we don't know.

Swell:                          Solo:			  
Oboe 8'                         Cremona 8'		  
Voix Celestes 8'                Seraphone 8' (derived)	  
  (derived from Oboe and Salic) Clarionet 16'		  
Salicional 8'                   Violetta 4'		  
Flute 4'                        Tremolo			  
Vox Humana                      			  
                                Great:			  
Couplers:                       Flute d'Amour 8' (derived)
Swell to Great                  Diapason 8'		  
Super Octave Great		Trombone 16'		  
Sub Octave Great		Principal 4'		  
                                			  
                                Pedals:			  
                                Bourdon 16' (derived)	  
                                Great to Pedal 		  
                                Swell to Pedal		  
				Open Diapason 16'         

1x Grand Jeu
3x swell pedals (Swell, Great and Solo)

spencer_2405_console_small.jpg spencer-overall3_small.jpg

As noted before, there is not much variation in the specification of these instruments, but Brian says he knows of a couple of people who own Spencers with 32' pedal reeds. One example is Robert Patten's described above, but is not original. In this specification the extra coupler is the only exception, with the Bourdon stop knob in a strange place moved up among the Great stops. This instrument has two coupler splays internally, which would mean it would take a very long time to dis-assemble for any repairs.

spencer-coupler1_small.jpg

This instrument was sold to Mathieu Delmas in France in early 2007. He has subsequently carried out extensive restoratinon work as can be seen from the French harmonium Blog site http://harmonium.forumactif.org/t474-reed-organ-arthur-spencer-n-2405-1938. During the course of his work he has confirmed the date of manufacture to be 8/9/1939 which is stamped on the Great and Swell reed chests.

Hautes Pyrénées 3MP

In Aug'2011, Mathieu Delmas and Bastien Milanese found another 3M instrument with the Crane and Sons label in a small church in Hautes Pyrénées, France. It seems to be a similar age as 2405 having the distinctive three swell pedals.

They noted that it has a Musette 8' stop on the Swell and a Solo to Great coupler in place of the Great Sub-octave. Whilst the serial number and date are not known it is probably from the mid-1930s.

Gwyn Lishman's 2M University Organ number 2509

This 2M University Organ was first spotted by Tony Newnham in February 2007 on the BBC TV Songs of Praise programme broadcast from Wreay Parish Church in nead Carlisle. He made enquiries and was later informed that it was for sale. It was purchased a few months later by Gwyn Lishman and is now installed in his home in Cumbria. Gwyn also has a small Estey and a Crane College Organ, the latter a 1M with no stops presumably also manufactured by the Spencers.

spencer_2m_2509.jpg

RFG-5022 3MP

This is a somewhat later example than mine, as it has no treadles but does have two balanced swell pedals. Otherwise the specification is identical.

rfg-5022.jpg

It had actually made an appearance on e-Bay, February 2006. It had prevously been in Traquair Kirk, Innerleithin. On close inspection I think this one is the same as mine, with an external blower and blowing handle but no treadles so possibly slightly later in date. It has also had the sound holes under the Great manual cut out at some time, presumably in an attempt to make it load enough for use in the church. Note the name ``University Organ'' still appears on the console, when they were sold by Crane and Sons it was often removed.

traquair_console.jpg

Further information included the dimensions: Width: 1490 mm, Height: 1450 mm, Depth: 790 mm. these exclude the blower, the pedal box and the bench. The blower is a 500 mm cube excluding the air hoses. The only name on the organ is University Organ. It is thought to have been constructed in the late 1940s and was supplied by R.W. Pentland of Edinburgh (apparently no longer trading). The organ needed an overhaul but still played well. A video recording was taken before it was uninstalled with a potential purchaser playing and commenting on its quality. This was available at Traquair Kirk where the organ was stored when advertised.

2MP/7 on e-Bay

This one had been in the Masonic Hall in Padstow, Cornwall from around 1987-2005. Its previous history is not known. The masonic building was sold in 2005 and the organ ended up on e-Bay with a sensible starting price of £200. It had its stool and a built-in blower so is a very late model. The specification is the same as my 2MP University Organ.

Unfortunately there was some confusion about the instrument. The seller attributed it to Griffen and Stroud who built organs from the 1920's to 60's. In an e-mail to me, he stated that it carries the Griffen and Stroud firm's plate. This fits the likely build data of 1928, so it is possible that Griffen's sold this organ which is almost certainly by Arthur Spencer - another addition to the enigma of the Spencers.

41_1_b.JPG

ROS-3666 2MP College Organ

This late instrument is number 3666 in the ROS DB. It is said to be a College Organ by Arthur Spencer. It is in the collection of the Woodville Organ Museum, NZ. It was used in a church in Paekakariki played by Arthur Bryant and then given to George Deans when he supplied them with a new organ. The specification given is as follows:

2x 61 note manuals
30 note pedals

Swell:                          Great:
Oboe 8'                         Dulciana 8'
Voix Celeste 8'                 Diapason 8'
Salicional 8'                   Clarionet 16'
Vox Humana                      Principal 4'
Flute 4'
                                
Couplers:                       Pedal:
Swell to Pedal                  Great to Pedal
Octave Coupler                  Bourdon 16'
Swell to Great                  Open Diapason 16'

1x Grand Jeu pedal
2x balanced swell pedals
blowing handle

ROS-3666.jpg

A very similar one, but a University Organ, was for sale in Morpeth via e-Bay *4226 in Aug'2010. This one has a Trombone in place of the Clarionet stop on the Great. It has a BOB blower, so is similar but slightly earlier to to John Miller's below. It measure 58'' x31'' x54''.

2M/6 on e-Bay

Another Spencer instrument in the Watford area appeared briefly on e-Bay in September 2005, but was withdrawn from sale. It was another very late model and carried the University Organ name. It has the usual specification, but of course without the pedal stops. It has knee levers in place of the latch-down Grand Jeu and swell pedals.

This has a built-in electric blower and compact oak case being 4'9'' wide, 2'5'' deep and 4'1'' tall. It probably dates from the 1960s.

university_2m_full.jpg More Pictures

RFG-3769 1M Minster Organ

This is a Minster Organ in the Fritz Gellerman database. Unfortunately the stop faces are missing. It is possibly made by Spencer, judging from the case design, and is an F compass American Organ. The second picture showing a different instrument was found on the Flickr Web database of photgraphs and we assume from the title that it is in Capel Crannog, Wales. Unfortunately it is not possible to read the name plate or see much detail, but it looks almost identical to the first. I have however never seen any other similar to this by any other maker.

rfg-3769.jpg capel_crannog.jpg

Holy Trinity, Swallow, 1M/4:4 number 6523

This is one similar to the one I saw in 1973 (see St. Mary's Mapleton below). It was working but in poor condition when it appeared for sale as eBay item *1002 in May 2011. It has the Crane and Sons label. The stops are: Bass Coupler, Sub Bass 16', Viola 4', Viola Dolce 4', Diapason 8', Dulciana 8', Gamba 8', Bourdon 16', Forte II, Vox Humana, Forte I, Clarionet 16', Melodia 8', Cremona 8', Diapason 8', Flute 4', Treble Coupler.

spencer_1m_eb1002.jpg

Colin Jackson told me that he bought this instrument and put it in Holy Trinity church at Swallow, Lincolnshire. It is still there and has the Crane and Sons show room number CS P/S785.

John Miller's 2MP/7 number 6528

This is a very late instrument, probably one of the last made. It is signed near the pallets H.L., May, 1962. When John contacted me in May 2006, he had just completed a rebuild. He told me: According to the last owner it was originally bought by a chapel in Cardiff, then sold on to a church in Wiltshire from where I purchased it in an unplayable state, having not been used for about three years. It had keys broken off, dead notes all over the place and non-functioning couplers. These turned out to be the result of moth and mouse infestation - I had to remake 4 keys and over 70 stickers and completely re-felt and rebush throughout. It is now fully operational bar a broken a-sharp'' 4' Flute reed and a couple of un-tuned pedal reeds (how do you get at them?). An examination of the reeds shows quite a bit of tuning activity and replacements by non-original reeds on the 8' Oboe. Tuning agrees with my piano so I'm guessing it's A=440Hz. Blowing is by a BOB Type TOT1, which I'm told was a replacement about 8 years ago.

2x 61 note manuals
30 note pedals

Swell:                          Great:
Oboe 8'                         Diapason 8'
Voix Celestes 8' (derived)      Dulciana 8' (derived)
Salicional 8'                   Trombone 16'
Flute 4'                        Principal 4'                      
Vox Humana
                                
Couplers:                       Pedals:
Swell to Great                  Great to Pedal
Octave Coupler                  Sub Bass 16'
Swell to Pedal                  Bourdon 16' (derived)

1x Grand Jeu
2x swell pedals for Great and Swell
built in BOB TOT-1 type blower

spencer_2mp_6528.jpg More Pictures

A few days later John sent me additional comments: I have photos of the various markings I found if you're interested. Other marks include C.A.M. on the underside of the great CC key, and some indecipherable (to me) scrawl on the side of the swell CC key. Incidentally the swell keyframe had a sticker on from BPA Ltd, Llanelly and I presume the keyboard serial number (4052), and ``Spencer C-C'' in biro.

I've a suspicion the reeds were sourced from a German company - the B reeds are stamped 'H'; the only one with B appears not to be original.

Another very late 2MP/7

This was advertised on the American Reed Organ and Harmonium Market Place on 4/5/11 and sold quite quickly.

It was referred to as a Spencer University Reed Organ Model B with integral BOB TOT-1 blower and has the same specification as above. It was built in 1963 and purchased originally from Millers of Cambridge. The seller had the full documentation available and it was said to be in good playing order and in regular use.

spencer_2mp_millers.jpg

Advertised again on e-Bay Jan'2015 *6846.

[more pictures?]

St. Mary's, Mapleton 1M/4:4

This is a 1M University organ which I saw in 1973. It is a late model with ``plastic'' keys, generally did not seem to be so well made and had poor tonal qualities. This one actually does have a built in BOB blower. It has a balanced swell pedal and a latch down Grand Jeu pedal. Stops are: Bass Coupler, Diapason 8', Dulciana 8', Bourdon 16', Gamba 8', Viola 4', Viola Dolce 4', Sub Bass 16', Forte I, Vox Humana, Forte II, Flute 4', Cremona 8', Clarionet 16', Melodia 8', Diapason 8', Treble Coupler.

3MP Minster Organ, Drenthe Museum

Photos from 25/9/2010 of this magnificent instrument are on Piet Bron's Flickr stream, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/pietbron/5064104551/in/photostream/. It is in the Harmonium museum at Barger-Compascuum, Drenthe, Netherlands. This is a very similar instrument to my own so probably from the same date.

It does however have a slight variation on the usual specification as follows. Note there is no 16' stop on the Great.

Swell:                          Solo:			      
Oboe 8'                         Melodia 8'
Celeste 8'                      Trompette 8'
Salicional 8'                   Musette 16'		    
Flute 4'                        Viola 4'
Forte                           Tremulant
Vox Humana                      Forte

                                Great:		      
Couplers:                       Dulciana 8'
Swell to Great                  Diapason 8'
Octave                          Gamba 8'
Sub Octave                      Principal 4'
                                Forte
      
                                Pedals:		      
                                Great to Pedal      
                                Bourdon 16'
                                Sub Bass 16'

1x Grand Jeu
3x swell pedals (Swell, Great and Solo)

1M Ashford Bowdler Church

From Jason Fisher 2/9/2015. A Spencer "University" reed organ, retailed by Dale Forty, Birmingham. 17 stops: Bass Coupler, Sub Bass 16', Viola 4', Viola Dolce 4', Diapason 8', Dulciana 8', Gamba 8', Bourdon 16', Forte II, Vox Humana, Forte I, Clarionet 16', Melodia 8', Cremona 8', Diapason 8', Flute 4', Treble Coupler.

Jason has posted a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVdrE3JMYHA.

He says, It is nice to see a single manual organ with a decent number of reeds, and despite this example being quite out of tune, it is quite a useful and interesting instrument. The touch is good (for a reed organ), and there was a fair amount of power from it. The reed voicing is not spectacular, but the build quality with its heavy oak case seems excellent.

spencer_j.fisher.1.9.15.jpg

Spence and Co.

spence_name.jpg

The firm of Spence and Co. is mentioned above in connection with Emily and Fred Longshaw. Instruments bearing this firm's name are quite rare but at least one still exists.

e-Bay 1M *3070

This one appeared for sale in Esher, Feb'2014. It was originally sold by Richard Peat & Co. of Alfreton. Dimensions are 114cm, x142cm h, x50cm deep.

spence_eb3070.jpg


A. Wagstaff (1886-1936)

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Albert Wagstaff of Manchester was a piano dealer active in the late 19-20th Century. There is an entry in the 1895 Slaters Trade Directory of Salford and Manchester for one Albert Wagstaffe, 280-282 Ashton Old Road, Oldham under the heading of Music Sellers and Musical Instrument Makers and Dealers. He is in the 1901 census as a organ dealer and traveller. A few American style reed organs attributed to him are known, but he may have only stencilled his name on them as did Cranes. They are so similar to the Spencer University Organs that I cannot believe this was a separate manufacturer. Similarly there are pianos with his name on.

2MP ROS DB entry 2388

This instrument is a 2MP organ with blower finished in rosewood (but no picture available) and has the following specification.

Swell:                       Great:
Oboe 8'                      Trombone 16'
?                            Diapason 8'
Salicional 8'                Dulciana 8'
Vox Humana                   Principal 4'
Forte II                     Forte I
Flute 4'                     

Couplers:                    Pedal:
Swell to Great               Bourdon 16'
Bass Coupler                 Sub Bass 16'
Treble Coupler               Pedal Coupler

The similarity of specification to the 2MP organs by Spencer, also of Manchester, is striking, see Chapter 16.2.

Surprisingly, we later found out that it was in Quebec, Canada and was for sale as e-Bay item *9549 in Aug'2011. It was noted that the bellows were in need of repair and it has had a new bench.

ebay_9549b.jpg

St. Michael's Church, Abberley, 2MP

A picture of this small organ was sent to me by Jason Fisher. It has 8 stops (probably 3 ranks of reeds) in a line above the keyboards which are non-overhanging and have a scale from CC-f''. It has a straight pedalboard with scale CC-d. It has one latch-down swell pedal. The organ has originally been hand pumped and has treadles and a slot at the rear where the handle must have been. Jason told me it is still used regularly for church services and is in good playable condition. This may be an original instrument by Wagstaff, or one sold by them before the contract with Spencers.

wagstaff_2mp.jpg

Estimated specification:

Swell to Great
Great to Pedal
Bourdon 16'
Diapason 8'
Dulciana 8'
Viola 8'
Tremulant
Forte

There is a potential connection between Wagstaff and Spencer also of Manchester. In this picture however, the only obvious similarity is the use of oval sound cutouts and pink cloth underneath the Great manual.

RFG-4555 2MP Albaphon

rfg-4555-B.jpg

Almost identical in appearance to a 2MP Spencer. Indeed my notes say that the Albaphon was manufactured by Spencer.

ROS-3425 2M

Another University Organ apparently by Wagstaff is in the ROS DB entry 3425. It has an oak case and a blower and its specification is given as: Diapason 8', Dulciana 8', Principal 4', Trombone 16', Forte 1, Super Octave, Sub Octave, Swell to Great, Oboe 8', Salicional 8', Flute 4', Forte 2. This looks quite familiar except for the omission of the Voix Celeste.

2MP/7 Albaphon number 1787

Another one was for sale in Cheshire in Apr'2013.

wagstaff_eb1254.jpg

2M/6 Albaphon number 1789

Another Albaphon Organ for sale on e-Bay, January 2007. This is number 5964 in RFG's DB.

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9ede_1.JPG

3MP/10 Albaphon number 2143

I was contacted in Feb'08 by Jans Vrieling of the Netherlands who told me he has this 3MP Albaphon organ by Wagstaff. It is dated 4/5/1928 and carries the serial number 2143. It is in the HVN database entry number 0085. It has the same specification as the 3MP University Organ and is actually the same as the instrument shown in the Cranes brochure listed as a ``3-Manual Church Organ''. This came with the University Organ bought for Deganwy Chapel in 1929.

HVN-0085.jpg

2MP/7 Albaphon, e-Bay *6053

This one was for sale in Mar'2012 from a vendor in Falkirk. It is the first one I've seen which is a 2MP with knee swells. It is still hand pumped.

wagstaff_eb6053.jpg

2MP/7 Albaphon, e-Bay *1254

This one was for sale by Jenny Cooper (Cheshire) in Apr'2013. It is a standard Spencer organ, serial number 1787 very similar to my own 2MP instrument. It has the Albophon name in gold paint on the fretboard. Thanks to Jenny for information about this instrument.

Register of known organs by Spencer.

We cannot list all the organs built by Spencer, one reason is that we haven't identified them all yet as explained earlier. They were sold through various shops but not often attributed to the Spencers. The following register therefore lists some of the instruments we have come across over the years in approximately chronological order.

Size Date Serial Number Comments
Early - flat stop jambs, oval sound vents, fluted edges
2M/7   1787 Albaphon in Cheshire; sold e-Bay Apr'2013 e-Bay *2154
2M/6   1789 Albaphon in Middlewich; e-Bay *1254 Jan'2007
2MP/5 Dec'1910 1862 John Robinson in Bishopstone; Gwyn Lishman, Cumbria 2008
2MP/7 [1895?] c.1910 1863 (C&S103971) Coventry; 1974 Rob Allan, Heanor; 2005 Rob Allan, Warrington
2MP/7     Eric Allcock, Lytham St. Annes; 2001, Gloucester sold on e-Bay *9750; June 2007 Saints Peter and Paul, Lavenham, Suffolk
3MP/10 July 1914 0157 Marcel Punt, Finland; sold Aug'2018
3MP/12     Robert Patten; sold on e-Bay Jun'2005 to someone in France
2MP/3     St. Michael's, Abberley
2MP/7     RFG-4555 Albaphon
2MP/7     Albaphon; e-Bay *6053 Mar'2012 Falkirk
2M/6     St. Catherine's, Kingsdown
3MP/10   1977 Scotch Corner; e-Bay *4322 July 2017
Early - tilted Solo manual
Early-Middle - ``slotted'' sound holes
2MP/7   1985 B.Clark, Winsford; for sale July 2013
3MP/10     Disley, probably a Minster Organ; sold Feb'2004
2M/6     Northwich for sale, e-Bay Mar'2004
2M/6     Ruislip for sale, e-Bay *1996 July'2007
2MP/7   2016 church in Wales; Jan'2012, R.Brice, Maryport; 2014 R.Knight, Cockermouth
3MP/10   2027 restored by J.Meijer, Netherlands; 2006 C.Seiler, Saarbruecken
2MP/7 1924 2030 Methodist Church, High Peak; e-Bay *8166 Jan'2013
2MP   2052 restored by M.Welleweerd; for sale 2015
2MP/7   2092 (C&S 135019) Gig Harbor, Washington for sale
3MP/10     in Wrexham; sold Aug'2009 on e-Bay *3426
2M     Northallerton; for sale Jan'2016
Middle - plain edges to case
3MP/10 4/5/1928 2143 Albaphon: J.Vrieling, Netherlands
3MP/10 c.1928 2166 (C&S 144546) Deganwy chapel; 2006 Derek, Grantown-on-Spey; sold e-Bay *3300 July 2013
2MP/7 1928 [?] 2185 Minster organ: [?] Kensington Music, Preston; I.Lindhout, The Netherlands
2M/6   2221 Minster organ, Barnsley; Oct'06 C.Jackson, Rothwell, Lincolnshire
2MP/7   2270 Birkenhead; sold on e-Bay *8771 4/8/2007 M.Adcock, Bala
3MP/10     unknown (modified?) in Swansea; sold on e-Bay *1747 June 2007 to S.Toth, Hungary but not collected
2MP/7 1929   Hoogkarspel, Noord-Holland for sale June 2007
2MP/7     e-Bay *9693 Norfolk Apr'2013
2M/6     new.too.you Nottinghamshire, broken 2004
Late - angled stop jambs, c.1929
3MP/10     2010 harmonium museum, Barger-Compascuum, Drenthe, NL
3MP/10 c.1927-8 2472 (C&S176229) Chester RC church; C.Birkin, Wales; R.J.Allan, Warrington
3MP/10   Wagstaff St.Tudclud's Church, Penmachno, N.Wales photographed Feb'2014
3MP post 1933   Netherlands, restored 2003
3MP/10     RFG-5022, Traquair Kirk, Innerleithen; for sale on e-Bay *5426 Feb'2006
2MP/7     Edinburgh; e-Bay *1653 Apr'2015
1M     RFG-3769
1M     Capel Cranog, Wales
Late - built-in blower c.1932
3MP     RFG4500 from F.van der Grijn
3MP 1935   L.Huivenaar's rental instrument
Late - additional couplers c.1933
2MP/7     Paekakariki church, NZ; George Deans; Woodville Organ Museum, NZ
3MP/10     Hautes Pyrénées, France seen Aug'2011
3MP/10 1938 2405 B.Styles, Cambridge; 12/1/07 Mathieu Delmas, France
2M c.1950? 2509 St. Mary's Wreay; 2007 G.Lishman, Cumbria; for sale e-Bay Oct'2013
2MP/7     ROS-3425
2MP/7     K.Dolce in Morpeth; e-Bay *4226 Aug'2010
2MP/7 c.1930 Wagstaff N.Richards, Melton Mobray; for sale 2013
Late - ``chunky'' style and built in blower
2MP/7 1962 4037 private collection
1M/1   6197 ROS-709
1M/4:4   6523 Wrexham; sold eBay *1002 May 2011; Holy Trinity, Swallow
2MP/7 May 1962 6528 Cardiff; Wiltshire; J.Miller, Oxford
2MP/7 c.14/9/1962 6535 Lanercost Priory; Wigton; S.Dennis, Cumbria; for sale Jan'2012
2M/6     Watford; advertised on e-Bay Sept'2005
1M/4:4     Mapleton Church seen 1973
2MP/7 1963   Millers Cambridge; mid-2011 Norwich; sold e-Bay *6846 Jan'2015
1M     Ashford Bowdler, seen by J.Fisher 2015
Undated
2MP     Gobowen Methodist Church, Oswestry; for sale on IBO Web site from 8/8/05
2MP/7     Price St. Mission in West Bromwich; M.Jacot bought, restored and sold it
2MP/7     Masonic Hall, Padstow; sold on e-Bay 2005
??     K.Bredin, bought from e-Bay
1M/1     Chippenham; sold Feb 2004
3MP/10     St. Wilfred's, Alderslade; sold 1977
3MP/10     Sidcup; sold 1977
3MP/10     Gt. Yarmouth, Minster Organ (?); sold 1976
      1950-7 Stretford All Saints Parish Church
      ROS-2193
      ROS-3110

One sometimes comes across interesting discussions on the subject of reed organs. For instance the church wardens of St. John the Baptist, Bircle near Manchester were considering the purchase of a University reed organ in 1956. They received a letter from the diocesan registry saying that this was not recommended. See Manchester Archives and Local Studies L172/3/3/13-14 22023/11/1956.

The same archive contains the bill from A.J. Spencer for the provision of a re-conditioned organ to All Saints Stretford L125/2/9/1-2.

Rob Allan
2017-12-27